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Gallup Survey Confirms San Francisco Is The Nation's Gayest City (#7 May Surprise You Though)


Not surprisingly, San Francisco has the highest concentration of LGBT people of any city in the US, at 6.2 percent, according to a new Gallup survey

However, there are some surprises on the list, including Salt Lake City, which is ranked No. 7.

From The New York Times:

Gallup1It might seem surprising at first that the city most associated with the Mormon Church — which believes that sex and marriage should occur between only a man and a woman — has the seventh-highest share of L.G.B.T. people, at 4.7 percent.

But another aspect of the Mormon culture — the importance of community and family — goes a long way toward explaining the pattern, people in Salt Lake City say.

Though many gay people who were raised Mormon (or L.D.S., an acronym for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) describe feeling expelled from the community, a large number still choose to stay close to their families and culture. “If you grow up L.D.S. like I did, you still have these deep Mormon values that are embedded in your DNA,” said Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, an L.G.B.T. advocacy group.

The Gallup survey includes the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas and is believed to contain the most detailed estimates yet about where LGBT people live. 

Birmingham, Alabama, has the lowest concentration of LGBT people, at 2.6 percent, but according to Gallup, the overall margin is small:  

The distribution of LGBT identity across the largest metro areas in the U.S. is relatively narrow, with a range of 3.6 percentage points from the highest to the lowest MSA among the top 50. This mirrors previous analyses of the distribution of the LGBT population across states, which show similarly fairly even distribution, at least in comparison to the many other pronounced geographic differences found on race, ethnic, political and ideological variables.

The lack of sharp distinctions could reflect in part that the geographic MSAs used in this research are large, and for most areas, include significant suburban populations around center cities. The sample sizes involved do not allow for an analysis of center cities per se, but perhaps the LGBT percentage is larger in these areas than in the metropolitan area as a whole.


Texas Attorney General Wants To Prevent Gay Workers From Caring For Sick Spouses


Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (above with Sen. Ted Cruz) doesn't want gay employees to be able to take time off from work to care for their ailing spouses.

Paxton, a tea partier, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Obama administration over a new rule extending the Family & Medical Leave Act to same-sex couples who live in states that don't recognize their marriages. 

Paxton is also advising state agencies — which employ 310,000 people — not to follow the new FMLA rule. 

“This lawsuit is about defending the sovereignty of our state, and we will continue to protect Texas from the unlawful overreach of the federal government," Paxton said in a statement. "The newly revised definition of ‘spouse’ under the FMLA is in direct violation of state and federal laws and U.S. Constitution. Texans have clearly defined the institution of marriage in our state, and attempts by the Obama Administration to disregard the will of our citizens through the use of new federal rules is unconstitutional and an affront to the foundations of federalism.”

Some background from The Washington Blade

After the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, the Obama administration sought to extend the federal benefits of marriage to the furthest extent possible under the law.

But FMLA by regulation looked to the state of residence, not the state of celebration, to determine whether a couple is married, so for a time married same-sex couples in non-marriage equality states were ineligible for benefits under that law, which enables an individual to take time off from work to care for a spouse.

The new rule, made final by the Labor Department last month and set to take effect March 27, changes the regulatory framework to ensure these benefits are available to married same-sex couples regardless of their state of residence. 

It's worth noting that the FMLA doesn't require employers to give workers paid time off to care for sick spouses. It merely guarantees their health insurance will continue and grants them 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year "to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition." 

Paxton's lawsuit seeks to prevent the new rule from taking effect not only in Texas, but in all 12 states where same-sex marriage is still banned. However, because the lawsuit is based on the marriage bans, it would be presumably be nullified if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes them down. 

Paxton also recently sought to void the marriage of a 30-year lesbian couple, one of whom has ovarian cancer. 

Daniel Williams, legislative director for Equality Texas, told The Texas Tribune: “I think there are a lot of people who would like to know why the attorney general cares if loving, committed couples are recognized as loving, committed couples."

Read the full complaint, AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "Texas Attorney General Wants To Prevent Gay Workers From Caring For Sick Spouses" »

Texas Lawmakers May Have Set A Record For The Most Anti-LGBT Bills In The History Of Any State


Jon Stewart was dead on last night when he said Texas lawmakers are munching on some serious hate cake

The Texas Observer reports today that they've now apparently set a record for the most anti-LGBT legislation in the history of any state. 

At least 20 anti-LGBT measures were introduced prior to last week's filing deadline. That's more than what is believed to be the previous record of 16 in Oklahoma this year. 

But in the Sooner State, 15 of those bills have already died, and LGBT advocates in Texas say they're confident they'll have similar results. 

From the Observer

EqTxDaniel Williams, legislative specialist for Equality Texas, said the group is “well-positioned” to defeat every piece of anti-LGBT legislation. Williams called it the worst session for LGBT rights since 2005—when the state’s marriage amendment passed and a proposal to ban gay foster parents was defeated on the House floor.

“What’s different about this Legislature than 2005 is that Texas, like most of the nation, has evolved on LGBT issues, and that mainstream voice is emerging and is being heard in the Texas Legislature,” Williams said. “It damages the Texas brand, and I think that’s why you’re seeing so many business voices get involved. … We also know how this process works better than our opposition does.”

Bell.CecilThe anti-LGBT legislation in Texas ranges from proposals targeting same-sex marriage, to religious freedom "license to discriminate" amendments, to bans on local LGBT protections, to bills that would criminalize transgender bathroom use.

GOP Rep. Cecil Bell (right), who's leading the charge with four anti-LGBT bills, told the Observer

“Unfortunately, I think it gets couched as ‘anti.’ It’s not about ‘anti.’ It’s about being pro-states’ rights. It’s about being pro-traditional values,” Bell said. “We’re seeing the results of a federal court system that doesn’t seem to be respecting the rights, the sovereignty, of the states and of the people. Because of that, you see the state legislatures pushing back.”

Pena.GilbertAnd GOP Rep. Gilbert Pena (right), the author of two of the four transgender bathroom criminalization bills, said this:

“This bill really is trying to establish the students’ rights to privacy,” said Rep. Gilbert Pena (R-Pasadena), who wants to make schools liable for damages if they allow transgender students to use restrooms based on how they identify. “How many girls in our high schools are going to be willing to allow some transgender male into their bathroom? Would you allow that for your daughter? I would not allow it for my daughter.”

Apparently, Pena doesn't quite understand the concept of transgender, since his bill would actually require transgender males to use the restroom alongside his daughter. 

Ahh, Texas. 

Texas Anti-gay Activist Rails Against 'Counterfeit' Marriages for 'Militant Homosexuals' in Promo for Roy Moore's Visit: VIDEO


In a video promoting an upcoming rally featuring Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, anti-gay Texas activist Dr. Steve Hotze says same-sex marriage is "counterfeit," "fake" and "a lie" — and that state lawmakers are under attack from "militant homosexuals." 

Peter LaBarbera at Americans For Truth About Homosexuality reposted the video from Houston's Hotze, president of Conservative Republicans of Texas, who is organizing the "Defense of the Texas Marriage Amendment Rally" at the Capitol on March 23.

In the video, Hotze says it's time to "draw a line in the sand" and "join our army to protect Biblical marriage":

"We have over 100 elected State Officials who are sponsoring this event. They are coming under attack by militant homosexuals. That is why Christians and conservatives must have a show of force to let these legislators know that we support them. ... 

"A fierce battle for the soul of Texas has begun.The liberals and their pro-homosexual allies want to force Texans to redefine marriage and accept ‘homosexual mirage’ as morally right.

"The idea that homosexuals could be married is a ‘mirage.’ It is contrary to God’s moral order. It’s a counterfeit. It’s fake. It’s a lie. The homosexuals and their supporters are using the liberal federal judges to redefine marriage against the will of the people in Texas and across America, which will force Texans to grant public approval and acceptance of homosexual activity. This will lead to homosexual behavior being taught to school children."

Moore.RoyHotze has become well known for his recent lawsuit against Obamacare. But he also has a long history of anti-gay activism. In 1985, Hotze sponsored the "Straight Slate," a group of eight City Council candidates who ran on an anti-gay platform — including a mayoral candidate who wanted to "shoot the queers." In 2009, Hotze sent out mailers attacking then-mayoral candidate Annise Parker over her sexuality. In a Republican Party fundraising letter last year, Hotze referred to gays as "sodomites."

“Our Founding Fathers would be furious to find out that the Constitution was being interpreted to allow sodomites to marry,” he wrote.

In a post earlier this year endorsing legislation that would revoke the salaries of county clerks who issue same-sex marriage licenses, Hotze wrote

“If the Texas Marriage Amendment is overturned permanently, then every Texas citizen, every church and business would be coerced and compelled to recognize and affirm homosexuality and other deviant sexual relationships as morally and legally equivalent to marriage. If this occurs then anyone who speaks out against homosexuality and deviant sexual relationships will be prosecuted for hate speech and hate crimes, violating the Constitutional rights of the majority to their freedom of speech and freedom of religion. ...

“Texas is the last bastion of Christian and conservative thought, power and action in the nation. If Texas were to fall, then America would be lost to the socialists and the secular humanists. We must shift the momentum in the battle for the heart of America and lead a Christian and conservative offensive that will spread across America and defeat Obama and his pro-homosexual, socialist allies.”

Next Monday's anti-gay rally will coincidentally take place on the same day as Equality Texas' Family Advocacy Day. However, Equality Texas representatives say no counterprotest is planned and they will instead host an ice cream social during the rally.  

Watch Hotze's video promoting the rally, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Texas Anti-gay Activist Rails Against 'Counterfeit' Marriages for 'Militant Homosexuals' in Promo for Roy Moore's Visit: VIDEO" »

Texas Lawmaker Cites 'Moral Standard,' 'Bestiality' In Defending Unconstitutional Sodomy Ban


Texas' unconstitutional sodomy law shouldn't be removed from the books because it upholds a "moral standard" and "can even cover bestiality," according to one state lawmaker.

GOP Rep. James White (above) is the author of a bill that would remove Texas' unconstitutional hair-braiding regulations from the books. In light of White's hair-braiding repeal bill, Lauren McGaughy of San Antonio's Express-News posed a fair question: Why not also remove another unconstitutional law, the sodomy ban, which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003? 

White's response was rather troubling: 

“Absolutely, there is a difference,” said Rep. James White, R-Hillister, who has filed a bill to do away with the braiding statute but wants to keep a similarly illegal law that criminalizes homosexual sex.

The braiding regulation, he said, “was a way of disenfranchising them out of the marketplace. I don’t necessarily think this was the case with sodomy.” ... 

White explained the discrepancy this way: Opposing homosexuality is akin to “a community coming together and having a moral standard, per se, as opposed to using the regulatory environment to disenfranchise people.”

“Obviously, sodomy covers a lot of instances. It can even cover bestiality and there are a lot of public health standards and even decency standards,” he added.

In addition to being offensive, White's statements are false. The sodomy law doesn't include bestiality. Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code merely states that, "A person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." The code defines "deviate sexual intercourse" as "any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person" or "the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object."

In fact, bestiality (or "zoophilia") isn't even outlawed in Texas. (For an interesting but outdated comparison between bestiality laws and same-sex marriage bans, go here.) 

Bills have been filed to remove Texas' sodomy law from the books in every legislative session since the high court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, but they've never even made it to the floor of either the House or Senate. This year's effort likely won't be any different in a Republican-dominated Legislature where as many as 19 anti-LGBT bills have been filed. Texas is one of 13 states with sodomy bans still on the books, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

From the Express-News:

“By leaving this provision in the law it’s insulting to Texans in the (lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender) community,” said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, who has filed legislation to do away with the statute. “It’s inconsistent, bordering on hypocritical to say one should remove something that’s been struck down … and not remove other statutes and language that has been struck down.”

Out Lesbian Lawmaker Fights Back Against Texas GOP's Endorsement of 'Ex-Gay Therapy'


Out lesbian state Rep. Celia Israel says she was "infuriated" when the Texas GOP added a plank endorsing "ex-gay therapy" to its platform last year. 

On Friday, Israel responded by introducing a bill that would ban the so-called therapy for minors. The bill is going nowhere in the right-wing Texas Legislature, but Israel said it's an important symbolic response to the Republican Party's anti-gay hatred — which has been further evidenced by more than 15 anti-LGBT bills filed in the current session. 

The Texas Observer reports: 

"I don’t think that they recognize how hurtful these kinds of things can be,” Israel said. “To suggest that some young kid that happens to be gay is less than normal is very hurtful and harmful and dangerous, and I think I put myself back in those years when I was first discovering who I was. … I felt strongly about introducing a bill that was a counter to that, to say, ‘We don’t need fixing. We just need your love.'”

Pickup.David_David Pickup, a licensed counselor who practices "ex-gay therapy" in Dallas — where he put up a billboard recently — said this of the proposed ban:  

“It results in further abuse of children because it doesn’t let them become who they actually are,” Pickup said. “It also takes away any possibility at all of children who are sexually abused by same-sex pedophiles from getting any help whatsoever to reduce or eliminate homosexual feelings that are caused by that.”

Thus far, only California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have banned "ex-gay therapy" for minors, but several other states are considering it. Equality Texas, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Human Rights Campaign issued a joint release applauding Israel's bill:   

“Time and again we see the psychological wreckage from so-called conversion therapy and it has to stop,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. “Even onetime champions of this dangerous technique have changed their minds as the evidence piles up that such ‘therapy’ doesn’t work and, worse, is dangerous.  Rep. Israel’s leadership here is welcome and puts the wellbeing of children first.” ... 

“No child should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited so-called therapy,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “These harmful practices are based on the false claim that being LGBT is a mental illness that should be cured, using fear and shame to tell young people that the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are. Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention."

“Today, more than ever, it is clear that LGBT youth and their families need accurate information about the dangers of these unscientific and unethical practices, and this bill is a powerful educational tool. For the first time in history, laws like this are shining a light on an issue that has remained in the shadows for too long,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Samantha Ames.  


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